Ex-Labour leader Kezia Dugdale’s independence stance ‘moved’

She said she could not argue ‘with the same strength for the union’ that she did in 2014, but is not ready to vote Yes just yet.

Ex-Labour leader Kezia Dugdale’s Scottish independence stance ‘moved’ PA Media

Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has told how her stance on independence has “moved”, as she said she can no longer make the case for staying in the UK with the same strength as she did in the run-up to the 2014 referendum.

Dugdale said while she feels Scots will get to have a second vote on the future of the UK, she does not believe another referendum will take place within the next decade.

“I don’t think either the Labour Party or the Conservative Government will concede a referendum,” the former politician said.

Asked directly how she will vote if there is another ballot on independence, Dugdale said she will “decide at the time”.

Dugdale, who is married to SNP MSP and Scottish Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth, spent eight years as a Labour MSP and led the party in Scotland between 2015 and 2017.

Kezia Dugdale married SNP minister Jenny Gilruth last year PA Media

However she has not been a member of Labour for three years, citing her pro-European politics as the reason for quitting.

Despite this, she said she “desperately” wants Sir Keir Starmer to win the next general election “because I want the Tories out of office”.

Dugdale, now director of the John Smith Centre at the University of Glasgow and also a professor of practice in public service at the university, was speaking during an event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

While she stressed she is now outside of party politics, she said: “If you are presented with a binary choice between an independent Scotland in a progressive Europe or little Boris Brexit Britain, I know where my cards would fall down.

“I also know I couldn’t argue with the same strength for the union that I did in 2014 now.

“That doesn’t mean I’m ready to vote Yes, there are big, big questions we need to debate as a country and resolve.

“So I have moved… we have to keep talking about some of these big issues in the country, but not just purely through that Yes/No lens.”

Dugdale also spoke about the need for more social housing, saying: “For me we have to build more houses if we have got any hope to eradicate poverty and inequality.”

She backed calls made by the SNP for the Scottish Parliament to be given powers over immigration and employment legislation.

She told the event: “I want to see a Scottish Parliament with greatly more powers than it has just now. I was arguing back in 2012 for the Scottish Parliament to have powers over things like employment legislation. I lost that argument then.

“For me it is an absolute no-brainer that the Scottish Parliament should have employment and immigration powers now, immediately.”

However speaking during a visit to Glasgow on Thursday, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner dismissed calls for employment law to be devolved, saying she wants “employment law across the whole of the United Kingdom to be uplifted and better” under a future Labour government.

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